President TrumpDonald TrumpMedia giants side with Bannon on request to release Jan. 6 documents Cheney warns of consequences for Trump in dealings with Jan. 6 committee Jan. 6 panel recommends contempt charges for Trump DOJ official MORE on Friday signed a proclamation blocking certain immigrants from claiming asylum, completing a controversial move that is expected to trigger a wave of legal challenges.
“We want people to come into our country, but they have to come into the country legally,” Trump told reporters before leaving the White House for a trip to Paris.
The directive enacted a new rule the Trump administration rolled out on Thursday that would limit asylum claims to migrants who enter the U.S. through legal ports of entry.
Under the Justice Department and Department of Homeland Security rule, immigrants who illegally cross the U.S. southern border from Mexico would be barred from claiming asylum under the existing process.
The restrictions will remain in place for 90 days but could be renewed on the recommendations of the secretary of State, secretary of Homeland Security and attorney general, according to the proclamation.
Democrats and immigrant rights groups are expected to challenge the policy change in court in the coming days.
"U.S. law specifically allows individuals to apply for asylum whether or not they are at a port of entry. It is illegal to circumvent that by agency or presidential decree," said Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberty Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project.
The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 states that immigrants present in the U.S. can make an asylum claim regardless of how they entered the country.
But the Trump administration is citing provisions of that law that allow the president to deny entry to large groups of migrants based on national security concerns, an extraordinary legal power Trump also used to justify his travel ban.
“I reiterate we need Democrats' votes. They have to pass new immigration laws because they’re flooding our country. We’re not letting them in, but they’re trying to flood our country," the president said.
The order is part of Trump's broader effort to crack down on illegal immigration, specifically from Latin America.
Trump in recent weeks has taken aim at a caravan of Central American migrants making its way through Mexico toward the U.S., many of whom want to claim asylum.
The president has cast the group as an "invasion" of criminals and drug dealers, but advocates say the vast majority are men, women and children fleeing poverty and violence in their home country.
Updated at 10:58 a.m.